NICOLA Sturgeon has said there must be improvements in the way her flagship policy for children in care is delivered over the next few years.

The former first minister agreed there is an “implementation gap” around The Promise, a wide-ranging commitment to improve the lives of care-experienced young people.

The policy stemmed from the Independent Care Review in 2020, including a commitment to ensure young people can remain with their families if safe to do so.

The comments, which closely mirror similar ones she made last July, came as she spoke to a BBC podcast called Fixing Britain, where crossbench peer Louise Casey examines social policy issues facing the country.

Sturgeon said vested interests pushing back against the policy had led to it taking longer to achieve its goals than was initially hoped.

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She said: “Vested interests are very, very vested. So there will be a sort of pushback and a backlash and a sense of inertia.

“And sometimes inertia makes it sound more passive than it actually is.”

She continued: “What we’ve also got is an incredible sense of people wanting to do it better.

“I think we, right now, are at a point where there is an implementation gap but we have the opportunity over a few years to really close that.

“If we don’t then that promise – I’m using that term in all senses – that I made effectively on behalf of the country to care-experienced young people will have been broken.

“And for me that is unthinkable.”

The National:

Sturgeon urged decision-makers to take a long-term view rather than easy choices, saying she would continue to lobby for changes from the backbenches.

The former SNP leader added: “Even if that means holding my own party to account on this, I will do that because having made a long-term promise you’ve got to stick with it.”

In July last year, Sturgeon said progress on The Promise was not happening quickly enough and all levels of government needed to “step up”.

At the time, a leaked document showed just half of Scottish councils had set up indicators to track progress on The Promise.

Only one council, Midlothian, was recorded as being on track.